Shared from the 10/15/2019 Houston Chronicle eEdition


Eastwood comes of age

Historic neighborhood shows off new looks, old style during home tour

Elizabeth Conley / Staff photographer

Michael Paul Kukuk relaxes in his Eastwood home with his dog, KoKo. His home will be on the Eastwood Historic Home Tour this Saturday and Sunday.

Courtesy ofthe Eastwood Civic Association

Kukuk added solar panels when he put a new roof on his home. The energy savings offsets the cost of his new swimming pool.

Photos courtesy of the Eastwood Civic Association

4415 Bell


4401 Leeland


4711 McKinney

Elizabeth Conley / Staff photographer

An earlier addition to the back of the home allowed for this balcony off of the master bedroom.

Eastwood Historic Home Tour

When: Noon-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Where: 4531 McKinney, 4711 Mc-Kinney, 4102 Woodleigh, 4415 Bell, 4406 Leeland, 4401 Leeland

Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 day of tour; purchase at or at Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone

Michael Paul Kukuk didn’t intend to own the party house of his neighborhood, but there’s something about having a ready Kegerator on your back porch, a pretty pool and lush landscaping that make his backyard a magnet for friends who gather there organically on a fairly regular basis.

Kukuk, an attorney and government affairs manager at Oasis Petroleum, has lived in Eastwood since 2003 and moved into his current home in 2015, appreciating its easy floor plan and big back/ side yards. He shares his home with a sweet dog named KoKo and a pair of cats, Wallace, who loves attention, and his sister Penelope, who is the exact opposite.

Its previous owners were a stop on the Eastwood Historic Home Tour several years ago, and now the home, with a whole new look, will be on it again this weekend.

The tour includes Kukuk’s home, plus four others and one at 4406 Leeland that is a work in progress, taken down to the studs so people can see the process of restoring a home that is nearly 90 years old.

Eastwood was designed in 1911 by William Wilson, who also developed Woodland Heights, and officially opened in 1913. They were built in architectural styles popular at the time: Craftsman, Arts and Crafts, and Mission-style and with Prairie-style influences.

Kukuk’s 2,200-square-foot, two-story home was built in 1915 and has been cared for by a variety of owners in its more than century of life.

Previous owners added onto the back of the house, allowing for a larger kitchen and enclosed porch on the main level and a larger master bathroom and closet plus a roomy balcony upstairs.

If you saw his house on Mc-Kinney Street before, it will likely look nothing like its predecessor. Before it had darker paint colors and heavy window coverings. Kukuk, a native of League City, has made it lighter and brighter throughout.

He also transformed his backyard, adding an L-shaped pool, decking and lush landscaping with angel trumpet bushes heavy with white flowers, tall banana trees, thick bamboo and plenty of Texas native plants that can withstand our hot, humid summers.

Kukuk first moved to Eastwood for the character that comes with older homes, but he stayed because of the friendly, small-town ways of the neighborhood. It’s the kind of place where neighbors often become close friends.

There’s a monthly wine night where everyone brings a bottle of wine and dish to share. He hosts a Halloween party, and his favorite is his Yucca Flat party, named after the Nevada nuclear test site. He serves a drink named in its honor, a concoction of vodka, ice, lemon juice and sugar all dumped into a cooler. (Not to worry; everyone walks home.)

There’s a serious side, too, and the active civic association often brings elected officials and candidates for office to meetings to talk about issues important to the city and to the neighborhood.

Kukuk held up photos of recent visits from County Judge Lina Hidalgo and state Sen. Carol Alvarado.

“I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” said Kukuk. “Among the people here there’s asense of intimacy. For one, you know your neighbors. It’s contagious — people get out of their houses and get to know each other.”

“And although the neighborhood is changing, it’s not doing so at a rate that longtime residents can’t afford to stay,” he added. “I like the eclectic mix of people here; it’s a welcoming neighborhood that feels like a small town.”

Kukuk’s home is filled with art, most purchased from local artists, but a handful of things that give the place a more eclectic feel were bought recently from neighbor-friends who are cleaning out their home as they prepare to move abroad.

They’re in their 80s and their style and taste are different from Kukuk’s, but he purchased from them a number of things with an Asian flair: a huge 18th-century chinoiserie armoire that for now has pride of place in his dining room; a pair of enameled cranes perched at the base of his living room fireplace; paintings; and a smattering of other items on built-in shelves in his TV room.

Kukuk added the pool and landscaping for enjoyment, and he made some other upgrades to the home — installing solar panels when he got a new roof — for energy efficiency. He got them in just before tax credits for solar panels expired, and said that many months he owes nothing for his main house — a trade-off for the energy it takes to run and maintain his pool.

Kukuk will be home during the tour, with a full Kegerator and bottles of rose in ice buckets poolside. His pool and solar panel installers will be on hand, too, for tourgoers wanting more technical information about those amenities.

“This doesn’t feel like an old house,” he said. “For me, the fun is going in and giving new life to it. I guess I’m becoming an old-house guy, but you can’t beat modern conveniences.”

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